Installing a battery charger instead of a converter?

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

72Blazerod

Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2005
Posts
9
Location
Delta, B.C. Canada
I have just recently installed a 12 volt system in my 1960 'canned ham' and was thinking about buying a converter for it but they seem to be somewhat expensive. My brother-in-law suggested that I hard wire a good battery charger in that will keep my batteries topped up while I have a 120 volt hook up. I already have a nice 12 volt fuse block that I just put in and don't really want to get rid of it. Anyone done this before? Any suggestions for a good battery charger (I have 2 six volts hooked together). I am only going to be using it to light up a maximum of 4 lamps, and a car stereo.  Thanks for your advice.
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
72Blazerod said:
I have just recently installed a 12 volt system in my 1960 'canned ham' and was thinking about buying a converter for it but they seem to be somewhat expensive. My brother-in-law suggested that I hard wire a good battery charger in that will keep my batteries topped up while I have a 120 volt hook up. I already have a nice 12 volt fuse block that I just put in and don't really want to get rid of it. Anyone done this before? Any suggestions for a good battery charger (I have 2 six volts hooked together). I am only going to be using it to light up a maximum of 4 lamps, and a car stereo.? Thanks for your advice.

Interesting timing of your post. I just finished installing my Statpower 40amp 3 stage charger that I bought in '95. I have installed it in a Class A, a TT, a 5thW, and now back in a newer used Class A. At that time, Statpower sold their inverter line through CW, but did not sell the charger -- so I purchased it from West Marine.  The 20amp would do you just fine. I believe they recommend the 40A for 400amp hour banks and the 20A for 100-200 banks. Here's a web site I found that has the current Xantrex model.

http://www.houseboatingworld.com/store/Scripts/prodView.asp?idProduct=28

It's a bit pricy in this ad, but possibly you could find a better deal - or check out eBay. However, this is probably the best unit on the market and receives very high ratings. It puts a full load into your batteries thru most of the charging cycle so it gets them back up quickly -- and properly.

 

Karl

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
5,154
Location
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
You didn't mention if you're using deep-cycle golf cart type batteries,  automotive batteries, or marine deep-cycle batteries (which are also normally used for engine starting). The best choice of the 3 for RV'ing is the golf cart type, which are designed for hours of low current (10-20 amperes) discharge, time after time. I realize that's not what you asked, but it becomes important. Regular battery chargers do just that - charge the batteries - and nothing more. A converter, on the other hand, supplies DC voltage to your lights, etc. AND charges the batteries properly. A regular 2-stage charger will charge the batteries, but may overcharge them to the point of decreasing their life dramatically. A 3-stage charger will go into "Float" mode to prevent this, but typically will not have the current capacity to handle heavy 12V loads like a 12 volt coffee maker. That load must be supplied by the batteries which may not be designed to handle heavy current draws repeatedly. Golf cart type batteries fall into this category. This is where the converter picks up the slack and reduces the load on your batteries. That said, not all converters are 3-stage either, but devices like the Charge Wizard can be added to provide the float function. Here's a link to one of the converter manufacturers. They also make the Charge Wizard. http://www.progressivedyn.com/power_converters.html

Bottom line is a 3-stage converter is your best choice, while a 3-stage charger will do the job; just not as well. 

   
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
>> A converter, on the other hand, supplies DC voltage to your lights, etc. AND charges the batteries properly.
====
Would it be better to modify that to, "Some" converters . . . AND charges the batteries properly?

A converter is a converter and a charger is a charger. Some converters have chargers built in, some don't. Some that have chargers built in do charge properly, some do not. For example, the one in my current converter, a Magnatex, has a whimpy, virtually useless .5 amp trickle charger -- hardly a 3 stage charger. Now that I have my Statpower 40A 3 stage guy hooked up, I'll just disconnect it from the converter.

Is the answer to this that all new converters have 3 stage charger built in?

On my last rig, the Tioga, the charger was an entirely separate unit from the converter by another company. It plugged into an a/c outlet that fortunately originated from it's own breaker so was easy to kill.

72Blazerrod indicates he already has a 12 volt fuse panel that he built in and wants to keep. If he has a good charger keeping the batteries topped off, why not just get the 12 volt directly from the source vs. converting incoming shore power? Inquiring minds want to know . . .  ???
 

Karl

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
5,154
Location
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
O.k. Bob, change that to "some". I forgot about guys like you that try to squeeze the last drop of juice out of a dried up lemon ;D ;D ;D
(You know I'm just kidding!)

My point was that a decent converter will assist in handling the occasional heavy loads that the batteries weren't designed for.

If he has a good charger keeping the batteries topped off, why not just get the 12 volt directly from the source vs. converting incoming shore power?

His question was:
Any suggestions for a good battery charger (I have 2 six volts hooked together).
, so that must mean he doesn't already have a charger.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Bob Buchanan said:
Interesting timing of your post. I just finished installing my Statpower 40amp 3 stage charger that I bought in '95. I have installed it in a Class A, a TT, a 5thW, and now back in a newer used Class A. At that time, Statpower sold their inverter line through CW, but did not sell the charger -- so I purchased it from West Marine.? The 20amp would do you just fine. I believe they recommend the 40A for 400amp hour banks and the 20A for 100-200 banks. Here's a web site I found that has the current Xantrex model.

http://www.houseboatingworld.com/store/Scripts/prodView.asp?idProduct=28

It's a bit pricy in this ad, but possibly you could find a better deal - or check out eBay. However, this is probably the best unit on the market and receives very high ratings. It puts a full load into your batteries thru most of the charging cycle so it gets them back up quickly -- and properly.

Interesting.  I recently bought a pair of Lifeline 80 amp-hour rated group-24 AGMs for my TT.  I have solar which handles all the storage charging chores, but my shore power chargers is a 1995 2 stage unit.  I have been considering a charger more appropriate to my new AGMs.

Any thoughts about the Xantrex for this?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,932
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
For the usage that 72blazerod indicates, I see no reason why a plain old battery charger wouldn't work adequately.  Depending on how much time is available to recharge before the next battery-only usage cycle, I would think that even a 10A automative charger might do the trick inexpensively.  20A would be better, though, and the voltage regulation is likely better in that quality of unit than in the discount store 6-10A chargers yoou see everywhere.

Marine type chargers are often designed to be built in and are quite robust. I'm talking about the chargers for bass boats and such - not major power plants for cabin cruisers.
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Hey Karl:

O.k. Bob, change that to "some". I forgot about guys like you that try to squeeze the last drop of juice out of a dried up lemon ;D ;D ;D
(You know I'm just kidding!)
====
Of course, my friend . . .

>> My point was that a decent converter will assist in handling the occasional heavy loads that the batteries weren't designed for.
====
Point well taken -- but his note indicated 4 lamps and car stereo.  :)

Of course, from that level of usage, he could probably go with a lesser charger than I recommended.

>> His question was: ?"Any suggestions for a good battery charger (I have 2 six volts hooked together).", so that must mean he doesn't already have a charger.
====
I know, that's why I suggested the Xantrex 20A charger. My point was that if he already has a 12V fuse panel installed, why spend the money on a converter. It would seem that if his batteries are going thru the fuse panel to the dc lamps and such, why buy a converter to split the DC off the AC from shore? He can get his DC directly from the batteries thru his fuse box -- and if he "does" get a good charger, it will keep the batteries up while running DC stuff.
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Carl Lundquist said:
Interesting.? ?I recently bought a pair of Lifeline 80 amp-hour rated group-24 AGMs for my TT.? ?I have solar which handles all the storage charging chores, but my shore power chargers is a 1995 2 stage unit.? ?I have been considering a charger more appropriate to my new AGMs.

Any thoughts about the Xantrex for this?

Carl, here's the user manual for the Xantrex 20/40A charger:

http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/462/docserve.asp

My unit has a "Battery Type" switch on the front with 2 positions, Gel and Flooded. Note in this documentatioin that the newer unit has a third position, AGM. If I were to go to AGM's I would have to upgrade whereas the newer units are designed to handle them. However, I read somewhere that AGM's are charged similarly to Flooded types and could perhaps get away with it.

I also read somewhere that one should not "equalize" an AGM -- so that's a feature of the Xantrex one might not use. OTOH, I would read the manual referenced here for more info on equalizing an AGM.

Keep in mind that I bought my 40A unit in '95 and have been a full timer ever since. So it has run constantly other than short periods of dry camping for over 10 years now. So that's the main basis of my recommendation. Would also imagine this charging techology is the same as used in the popular Xantrex Inverter/Charger combos.
 

72Blazerod

Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2005
Posts
9
Location
Delta, B.C. Canada
I guess I should have noted that my 2 six vlots are golf cart batteries.  Another ting I should have mentioned was that I would also like to have it to keep my batteries charged over the winter when it is not in use.

Rod
 

blueblood

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Posts
1,082
Bob Buchanan said:
I read somewhere that AGM's are charged similarly to Flooded types and could perhaps get away with it.

I also read somewhere that one should not "equalize" an AGM -- so that's a feature of the Xantrex one might not use. OTOH, I would read the manual referenced here for more info on equalizing an AGM.

Before I bought my Lifeline I called them and asked about both these issues. They said my existing charger (flooded) was fine. On equalize, they said not necessary in an RV application vs boat but can be done. Reason for difference had to do with manner of operation in normal RV use - discharge a little -recharge, repeat versus boat where they assume deep discharge before any sort of recharge. Back on first issue, they thanked me for calling and checking before installing batteries; said most people called after damage was done.  So it might be worthwhile to call and ask about your particular unit.
 

Jeff

Site Team
Joined
Apr 8, 2005
Posts
8,965
Location
SD/AZ
72Blazerod said:
Any more suggestions?  What do you guys think a GOOD converter would be for not too much $$$?  Is the Intelli-Power converter any good?

Rod

I had a 55 amp IntelliPower with the charge wizard in our last pace Arrow and it worked great. After three years batteries were like new when we traded and it used far less battery water than our current Xantrex does.
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,938
Location
Davison Michigan
Re: Progressive Dynamics Intella-charger with Charge Wizard.

That is what DAMON installed in my rig (Factory install) along with a pair of Interstate Work-A-Holic U-220 Golf Card batteries.  The Intella-charger is an eighty amp unit

So far I have checked the water level in the batteries many times... and replaced the caps every time.  Have not had to "maintain" yet.  Just check.

I also have a Xantrex Prosine 2.0 Inverter/Charger... It is not, however, connected to the Work-A-Holic flooded wet cells... It has a pair of AGM's that keep it very happy.

Major difference... With the Intella-charger and charge wizard I get two options for charging,  With Charge wizard it does a 3-step charge with occasional equalize periods.  I don't know what it does w/o as I've never even bothered to read that part.

The Xantrex does equlize only by request (and then only if the battery profile allows it) and has many different pre-set battery profiles.  Including a few specifically for AGM batteries (Mine is set to AGM generic)

Here is how battery profiles work.

You select the battery type or profile (or make your own profile if none of the pre-set ones fit) they offere suggestions in the manual.  You set the capacity (My system is set to 230 amp hours... I'm not sure but I think I've got much more than that) the charger then sets peak current based on the amper-hours and the recharge rate for that profile (230 amphours means a peak charge of about 70 amps if memory serves, note this is a round figure, not exact) and again based on the profile it chooses the voltage to charge at for each of the 3 steps (and the current for the other two steps too)

It also monitors battery temperture if you have the sensor installed (my sensor does not work) or you can set cold,medium,hot (I've got to re-set that) and adjusts the charge voltage based on temperture
 
Top Bottom